Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cabin Life: Some Big Decisions

The New GirlsRainy and in the forties.  This is the worst type of weather I face all year.  I know, the snow is just gone, and I had to have my chickens live in a tent in my kitchen for a few nights, but hiking in and saving the chickens from the bitter cold were easy decisions.  This weather presents a much tougher decision:  whether to burn the precious little dry wood I have left.

Even with a few weeks off from the cabin this winter, my wood supply is quite low now.  The wood I found over the winter isn’t quite dry enough to burn, and it’s a tough call to use up wood when it’s still above freezing.  If the temperature doesn’t dip too low, I’ll bundle up with a sleeping bag and run the little propane heater for a little while in the morning before it warms up outside.  But this cold damp calls for a fire.

I’ve got the glass doors wide open, and the fire is crackling away behind the grate that keeps the sparks in.  I didn’t realize how much of a difference the new stove really made until just the other day.  I had a fire going with the grate in place, and when I came back in I noticed a smell I hadn’t smelled in some time.  The cabin smelled like wood smoke, and it was actually pleasant.  That smell had been ruined for me by the old woodstove, which used to belch smoke inside with regularity.

I like being able to hear the pop and crackle and have an unobstructed view of the flames.  Sure, it’s not all that efficient to use the grate, but honestly, I don’t want it too hot in here.  The trouble with the temps in the forties is that it’s too cold not to have a fire, but too warm if I do have a fire.  And there’s the rub.

It’s just another one of life’s seasonal transitions out here.  I have to make calculated decisions on heating and the wood supply.  But I also have to be comfortable.  It can be a grueling choice to make.  There have been, however, several choices I’ve made recently that were considerably easier.

The first was to order more chickens.  Amy and I split an order, and I picked them up from the post office yesterday.  The little chicks were peeping like crazy in the seat next to me on the way from the post office.  With the weather being so damp and cold, the chicks will be staying at Amy’s for a couple of weeks.  Plus, I don’t want Midget to get too rough with the new girls.  They have to be big enough to put him in his place, even if judging by the behavior of Whitey, Brownie, and Blondie he is quite the charmer.

I’m excited to expand the group with a few new girls.  A silver laced wyandotte and three Aurucanas are going to be joining the flock in a couple of weeks, just when the weather gets nice.  In addition to these four, I took a fertilized egg from each of my current hens to Amy’s.  She has one that’s very broody right now, and I thought it would be fun to see if she’ll hatch some of Midget’s offspring.  This hen was just sitting in an empty nesting box when I got there.  She’s so intent on sitting on eggs that she wouldn’t get up when I pushed her.  I had to lift her butt and put the eggs down underneath her.  She made a quiet noise and settled back in, so we’ll see how it goes.

And finally, as much as doubling my chicken flock may impact my life, this final decision will no doubt have a bigger impact.  I’m sorry to say, but I will in all likelihood not be living in this cabin at the end of the year.  I asked my girlfriend to marry me, and for some strange, unknown, and possibly unknowable reason, she said yes.  And fortunately or unfortunately, my little cabin is no place for us to start our lives together.

I give her a lot of credit for putting up with my living situation for so long.  For almost two years she has never once complained about the toilet paper being in the oven, or having to hike in, or being covered in dog fur when she leaves.  I guess I owe it to her for us to find a place that has indoor plumbing, electricity, TV, internet, a refrigerator, and an oven.  I can go either way on the electricity or TV, but my bride-to-be deserves nothing but the best.  And in my opinion, indoor plumbing is the best.  Jeez, I’ve been out here too long.

 

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Justin A Levine

Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.







6 Responses

  1. Chris S. says:

    Congratulations!

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts here the last couple years.

  2. laurie says:

    Congratulations!

  3. Alexa says:

    Congratulations! I’ve enjoyed Cabin Life and wish you well.

  4. Judy Mott Strong says:

    Justin, Congratulations and of course she said YES. You are a great and caring guy. I have enjoyed Cabin Life so much. My dad grew up in Franklin Co, NY during the early 1900s until 1940 and I just imagine a lot of what you have experienced he did also.

    From a lady who has been married 48 years to another great and caring guy – Best Wishes.

  5. Eric H. says:

    Congrats to you! I’m sure it’s bittersweet & you’ll look back on “the cabin years” with fondness. It’s been fun keeping up with your adventures!

  6. westernedge says:

    Justin, congratulations! I will miss your posts, especially during winter months when I am not at my camp any more. Blessings and continued “richness” on the rest of your life!

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